The sinning right hand (Mt 5:30-5:30)

“If your right hand

Causes you to sin,

Cut it off!

Throw it away!

It is better

For you

To lose

One of your members

Than for your whole body

To be thrown into hell.”

 

καὶ εἰ ἡ δεξιά σου χεὶρ σκανδαλίζει σε, ἔκκοψον αὐτὴν καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ· συμφέρει γάρ σοι ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν μελῶν σου καὶ μὴ ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου εἰς γέενναν ἀπέλθῃ.

 

Matthew continued with his emphasis of Jesus talking about a loss of a limb that was considered like a martyrdom.  Once again, Matthew was dependent on Mark, chapter 9:43-48, and repeated this in chapter 18:8-9 of this work.  This time it is the right hand (καὶ εἰ ἡ δεξιά σου χεὶρ) that is causing you to stumble or sin (σκανδαλίζει σε,).  Then you should cut it off (ἔκκοψον αὐτὴν) and throw it away (καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ).  Just like in the preceding verse the reasoning was the same.  This self-mutilation was better for you (συμφέρει γάρ σοι).  It was better to lose one of your member parts (ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν μελῶν σου) than have your whole body be thrown into Gehenna or hell (καὶ μὴ ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου εἰς γέενναν ἀπέλθῃ).  There is a different Greek verb used here that means to be thrown or cast into hell.  The Greek word for hell “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna was based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom that was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place.  You were better off with one hand and a whole body than being in the fires of hell.  Notice the emphasis on the right side, obviously a right-handed society.  Perhaps the right hand was the hand that did violence to others, as in killing.

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